Damian Lillard Says Grizzlies' Ja Morant Is a 'Star' After Play-In Game Win

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 15, 2020

Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant, right, goes up for a shot against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant finished Saturday's play-in contest with 35 points, eight assists and four rebounds. 

He dazzled with his usual circus playmaking tricks and buried three of six shots from behind the arc. 

The Grizzlies lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 126-122, though Morant walked off the floor with plenty of praise from guard Damian Lillard, who called the 21-year-old a star already. 

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

“… he’s a star already as a rookie …” Dame showed love to Ja Morant after their duel in the Western Conference Play-In 🤝 https://t.co/aD1FyZTcOF


Ja's footwork earns him the layup! @trailblazers 80 @memgrizz 84 📺: ABC https://t.co/tWxdfOXH56

The battle for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference required Memphis to win two games before the Blazers could win once—a task that became even more daunting as Lillard averaged 51.3 points over his last three games. 

He added another 31 points Saturday with his backcourt mate CJ McCollum pouring in 29 points himself. The most clutch shot from McCollum saw Morant get crossed up on a step-back with less than two minutes to play. 

It was a learning moment for the rookie, and if his first year in the league is any indication, it's one he'll grow from rather quickly.